Mitani Toshuku (1577-1654) 三谷等宿
Wall panel, ink and light colour on paper.
Upper Seal: Mitani 三谷
Lower Seal: Toshuku 等宿
Each – 118.5 cm x 51 cm x 2 cm (46.5” x 20” x .75”)
Individual falcon paintings by Mitani Toshuku (1577-1654), an early artist of the Unkoku School. Founded by Unkoku Tōgan (1547–1618), a master of the Momoyama period, the Unkoku school enjoyed longlasting patronage in southern Japan. Togan was a retainer of the Mori family in present day Yamaguchi prefecture. Members of the school considered themselves to be in the artistic lineage of Sesshu Toyo. Although he did not use the Unkoku name, Mitani Tōshuku was a prominent member of the school. He painted in a manner very similar to his master, Togan, and specialized in painting falcons. Toshuku’s falcons were famous within the Mori domain, and were even given the name ‘Mitani Falcons’.
These paintings embody the solemn and dignified atmosphere typical of the Unkoku school – particularly evident with early Unkoku painters. The primary medium of ink is enhanced with limited use of colors and gofun. The rocks and pine trees are are modelled with chiaroscuro lending them dramatic, three-dimensional forms. The feathers of the dark falcons are intricately detailed, contrasting sharply with the white falcons, which are presented in loosely outlined silhouettes.
These paintings are comparable to a well-known set of twelve hawk paintings by Mitani Toshuku which were first recorded in 1899 by the Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties. All paintings bear the exact same seals. Extant works by the artist are rare.